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Table of Contents for this page


First the Basics:

A Bit About Mythic Criticism


  1. Meaning cannot exist solely on the page of a work, nor can that work be treated as an independent entity.
  2. Humankind has a "collective unconscious," a kind of universal psyche, which is manifested in dreams and myths and which harbors themes and images that are hard-wired in all of us.
  3. These recurring myths, symbols, and character types appear and reappear in literary works.



  1. Consider the genre of the work (e.g., comedy, romance, tragedy, irony) and how it affects the meaning.
  2. Look for story patterns and symbolic associations, such as black hats, springtime settings, evil stepmothers, and so forth, from other texts you've read.
  3. Consider your associations with these symbols as you construct the meaning from the text.


Taken from Deborah Appleman's Critical Encounters in High School English

Applying Archetypal/Mythological Criticism to The Kite Runner:



"Lore has it my father once wrestled a black bear in Baluchistan with his bear hands" (Hosseini 12)

"I can never tell Baba from the bear" Hosseini 12

     The black bear symbolizes power, that the father gained.  He feels he has the same power and strength as a bear would have.


"One summer day, I used one of Ali's kitchen knives to carve our names on it: 'Amir and Hassan, the sultans of Kabul" (Hosseini 27)

      When Amir and Hassan are young they carve their names in the pomegranite tree.  This symbolizes their strong and close friendship.



Literary Criticism and The Kite Runner:

Linked below are student developed resources to help readers better understand the depth and complexities of Khaled Hosseini'sThe Kite Runner. These pages were put together in conjunction with our study of literary criticism.


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